Fixed Aids in Caves
A fixed aid can be best described as any item installed or placed in the cave to assist progress, which remains in place for longer than the period of a single visit. Fixed aids in our region include anchors (ranging from original exploration spits to modern resin anchors), ropes, ladders, slings, chains, wires, scaffold, stemples, amongst many others.
The primary fixed aids that the Council of Northern Caving Clubs currently supports are stainless steel resin bonded anchors which have been installed by trained installers in accordance with the CNCC or BCA anchor scheme in place at the time of their installation. This includes P-type anchors installed by the CNCC Technical Group up to approximately 2015, and since 2015, IC anchors installed by CNCC-approved installers.
Providing they are subject to the necessary pre-use inspection, these anchors provide a safe and tested means to belay ropes to descend potholes following the rigging principals of Single Rope Technique (SRT). On this website, you can find out more information about the history, safety and locations of resin anchors.
The CNCC may, under some limited circumstances, install or make cavers aware of alternative anchors or belays in caves. Examples include installing ground spikes where a surface belay is needed but the surface rock does not support resin bonded anchors, or the display of selected non-CNCC approved anchors, scaffold or tree belays on our rigging topos. In all such situations, these anchors or belays will be differentiated on topos from approved anchors and additional warnings will appear on the topo to emphasise that groups must take additional responsibility and care if choosing to use them. Cavers should avoid use of fixed aids such as ropes and ladders as these are often abandoned without maintenance or inspection, and can be prone to very rapid and unobvious deterioration.
Fixed Aid Participation Statement
The following statement details the CNCC policy on fixed aids, including resin anchors.
“The primary fixed aids supported by the CNCC (‘approved anchors’) are stainless steel resin bonded anchors installed in accordance with a CNCC or BCA scheme. A list of approved anchors can be found on our website and shown on our rigging topos. The CNCC may install or advise on the availability of alternative anchors and belays only in situations where approved anchors are not available or where caver awareness of alternative anchors or belays is deemed beneficial. These will be differentiated on our topos from approved anchors, and cavers must understand that the decision to use them incurs even greater personal responsibilities and judgement, as CNCC cannot claim the same confidence in their integrity as we can for approved anchors. Anchors are for use by experienced cavers only who are fully trained in rigging techniques and who have understood all of the information in our ‘anchor safety’ document, including the need to always perform a pre-use inspection on every anchor and to always rig from multiple anchors. The CNCC does not support, endorse, monitor or maintain any ropes or ladders in caves. We urge all cavers to avoid using any such fixed aids for safety-related purpose as their condition may be compromised.”